Monday, May 17, 2010

Teaching Babies Sign Language

I have always planned to teach my son a few sign language signs. Babies can sign much more easily than they can verbalize words. In fact, children being raised in a home where sign language is used can start to sign around 6 months of age.

My goal is to teach my son simple words so he can communicate a desire to eat, sleep, drink, use the bathroom…. If he is able to communicate his needs more clearly to me it will reduce the amount of frustration on everyone’s part.

One of the great things about using sign language is that you are able to take the child’s hands and move them to make the sign. It’s not possible to make a child repeat a sound after you. Sometimes the parent physically guiding the child to make the sign helps the child to understand what is expected of him or her.

We worked on this concept with Doodlebug for months on end. He just wasn’t getting it. He understood when I signed to him, but did not know what I wanted him to do. Finally one day he took my hands and guided me through signing the word “book”. Progress! Within a few more days he could sign “book” when I showed him the sign and verbally encouraged him to sign it. And a few days after that he started signing the word spontaneously.

He was reading books by himself shortly after that. He looked down at his book, signed “book” (to himself) and then picked it up and started to read. It was one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

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